ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Caste and Gender in Tagore’s Chandalika

​Constructing the ‘Nationalist’ Subject

Chandalika constructs a “nationalist subject” capable of annihilating caste, while simultaneously implementing new standards of morality rooted in casteist and sexist ideologies.

In his speech at the House of Commons on 10 July 1833, Thomas Babington Macaulay spoke about Indian culture and society in the following manner:

I see a government anxiously bent on the public good. Even in its errors I recognise a paternal feeling towards the great people committed to its charge. I see toleration strictly maintained: yet I see bloody and degrading superstitions gradually losing their power. I see the morality, the philosophy, the taste of Europe, beginning to produce a salutary effect on the hearts and understandings of our subjects. I see the public mind of India, that public mind which we found debased and contracted by the worst forms of political and religious tyranny, expanding itself to just and noble views of the ends of government and of the social duties of man.

Macaulay’s speech and the famous 1835 Minutes on Indian Edu­cation explain the basis of the colonial civilising mission wherein the “enlightened” British colonisers took it upon themselves to save “primitive” colonies like India from their “evil” practices and superstitions through English education and religious conversion. Macaulay’s speech was made after the Bengal sati regulation, 1829 that marked a new era in India’s “progress.” The regulation defined the practice of sati (widow immolation) as “revolting to the feelings of human nature” and that sati was “nowhere enjoined by the religion of the Hindus as an imperative duty.”

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Updated On : 1st May, 2021
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